Browse/search for people

Professor Val Williams

Professor Val Williams

Professor Val Williams
BA, M Ed, PhD

Emeritus Professor

Social Science Complex,
8 Priory Road, Bristol BS8 1TZ
(See a map)

+44 (0) 117 331 0971

Summary

Two central themes have dominated my research. These are:

a) inclusive research: including disabled people as active researchers;

b) analysing naturally-occurring communication.

Both these themes were developed during my earlier teaching careers, and were represented in my M Ed (1979), my activities in leading a teachers’ research group (1980-81), and during my time in FE (for example, CLASS, 1986 and Hortham Memories, 1992).

During my time at Norah Fry Research Centre, I have developed and pioneered methods for including people with learning disabilities as researchers, and have made central contributions towards theorising this new ‘paradigm’ of research. Essentially, inclusive research raises epistemological questions about whose knowledge counts in social research, and I have discussed these questions in academic papers, articles and conference presentations, drawing on my own practical experience of inclusive projects. I am frequently asked to contribute to conferences and to assist others who are developing inclusive research with people with learning disabilities.

My other central interest is in communication. My M Ed was a research degree, in which I explored the relationship between language development and imaginative play in children with severe learning disabilities. During my PhD work (Williams, 2002), I was able to explore and refine discourse analysis (DA) methodologies. My thesis brought together my two central interests, as it explored and described inclusive research as a social activity, using the tools of discourse analysis (DA) and conversation analysis (CA). My more recent work on ‘Skills for Support’ (Williams et al., 2007)  is recognised as significant, since it questions the nature and relationship between researcher and researched, and the practical implications of discourse research. I participate in activities at the Cardiff Health and Communication Research Centre with Professor Srikant Sarangi, and have presented papers in panels led by Dr. Charles Antaki at Loughborough.

Biography

My first career was in education, where I was a classroom teacher in special schools during the 1970’s. This introduced me to a vast range of individuals with learning disabilities, as well as their families and supporters, all of whom helped me to learn. My second career, during the 1980’s and 90’s was in Further Education, where I worked with people with learning disabilities, as well as other disabled students of all ages. I was active in introducing and supporting inclusion for disabled students across college, and my final post there was as cross college disability co-ordinator.

I joined Norah Fry Research Centre in 1997, as a research assistant on a project about family carers (‘In Their Own Right’; Wililams and Robinson, 2000).  I also carried out my PhD during this period (Williams, 2002a) which was an analysis of discourse based on an inclusive research project with people with learning disabilities.  I am now a reader in Disability Studies, and Head of Norah Fry Research Centre. My research output includes projects about the following topics: 

  • families and carers
  • direct payments support
  • work and employment issues
  • community based day activities
  • mental health support needs of young people with learning disabilities
  • financial issues for people with learning disabilities
  • accessible information
  • Further Education for young people with learning disabilities
  • commissioning for new forms of support
  • communication skills of personal assistants, in working with direct payments users with learning disabilities

I am the PI for an ongoing project for the School for Social Care Research about the experience and practice of social care assessments, in which we are taking an inclusive approach, and are collecting naturally occurring data about practice. I am also the PI for a large study which has just been funded by the ESRC, entitled: 'Tackling Disabling Practices: co-production and change'. We will be starting in April 2015, and plan to interrogate a range of theoretical ideas about practice, in order to find out more about how change can happen, on the terms of disabled people themselves. 

Teaching

Teaching

Working with other colleagues in Norah Fry Research Centre, I have developed and lead an MSc programme, which is now linked with other Research Methods programmes in the department. We are known for the inclusion of people with learning disabilities as co-tutors, and a shared, interactive learning environment. We explore key themes in research, from the point of view of Disability Studies, with a particular focus on people with learning (intellectual) disabilities. 

MSc in Disability Studies: inclusive theory and research       

    Development of programme, and programme director
    Core units in: Inclusive Research with disabled people;
    Participation in Policy Making; Including Students’ Voices

PhD supervision

I am particularly interested in supervising dissertations which have a Conversation Analysis component, and have supervised the following PhD students:

Dr. Marcus Jepson -  Who Decides?  A Conversation Analysis study of the Mental Capacity Act in practice.

Dr. Barbara Coles -   An (Auto) Ethnographic Study of Parents who manage direct payments for their sons or daughters with complex needs.

Dr. Liz Tilly -  Money, Friends and Making Ends Meet: an inclusive study with a group of people with mild learning disabilities. 

Dr. Jon Symonds - A Conversation Analysis of telephone conversations to recruit parents to parenting groups.

I have also supervised eight D Ed Psych doctoral students, and 

I currently supervise seven PhD students, and two D Ed Psych students, in these topic areas:

* Citizenship and quality of life in Korea (Hyunhee Park)

* Young people with intellectual disabilities in India (Tim Marshall)

* Bereavement support for people with learning disabilities (Victoria Mason)

* Inclusion of students with learning disabilities in an FE College (Neale Fox)

* Participation in a self-advocacy setting (Debbie Worrall)

* Day services and day activities for people with learning disabilities (Daria Koeller)

* Further Education and Educational Psychology (Laura Mennell)

* The transition pathways to college of young people who are looked after (Lise Hill)

 

 

 

Expertise

Two central themes have dominated my research. These are: a) inclusive research: including disabled people as active researchers; b) analysing naturally-occurring communication. During my time at Norah Fry Research Centre, I have developed and pioneered methods for including people with learning disabilities as researchers, and have made central contributions towards theorising this new ?paradigm? of research. My other central interest is in communication. My thesis brought together my two central interests, as it explored and described inclusive research as a social activity, using the tools of discourse analysis (DA) and conversation analysis (CA). My more recent work on ?Skills for Support? (Williams et al., 2007) is recognised as significant, since it questions the nature and relationship between researcher and researched, and the practical implications of discourse research.

  • inclusive research
  • disabled people
  • disability
  • communication
  • learning difficulties
  • research
  • discourse analysis
  • Memberships

    Organisations

    School for Policy Studies

    Research centres

    Recent publications

    View complete publications list in the University of Bristol publications system

    Edit this profile If you are Professor Val Williams, you can edit this page. Login required.

    PDF versionDownload PDF